One of the oldest ski areas in the US, Winter Park Ski Area opened for the first time for the 1939-40 ski season. A rail line from Denver known as the 'ski train' carried Denver residents to Winter Park for 70 years until it ceased operations in 2009.
The resort is located near its namesake city of Winter Park, Colorado. The small mountain community has a year-round population of just 662 (according to the 2000 census), but the population swells during the winter months with seasonal residents, seasonal resort employees and skiers. The Fraser Valley and Grand County, where Winter Park is located also has several small towns in close proximity. Granby, where Granby Ranch Resort and SolVista Basin Ski Resort are located about 15 miles up the road.
The area enjoys a growing reputation as a year-round resort community. The area includes Rocky Mountain National Park, a popular area for hiking, backpacking and camping. Other local ski areas including SolVista Basin operate ski lifts during the summer to carry mountain bikers to the tops of mountain trails where they can enjoy biking through challenging terrain amid unbeatable Rocky Mountain scenery.
Several golf courses dot the area, although none are part of the resort itself. The area also features planned vacation home communities and fishing streams as well as summer music and culture festivals. It has become a preferred location for Denver residents to construct weekend vacation homes, but also provides a large inventory of vacation rentals including homes, cabins and condominiums.
Winter Park consists of three main peaks, each a distinctly different ski area, interconnected by lifts: Winter Park, Mary Jane and Vasquez Ridge. Mary Jane Peak has a separate base and is best known for some of the resort's more difficult/expert terrain with moguls, tree skiing and Parsenn Bowl.
Formerly a popular backcountry ski area accessible only by hiking from the top of Mary Jane, Vasquez Cirque is now serviced since 2006 by the new Outrigger triple chair lift.
Somewhat of a rarity these days, but nice for beginner skiers, children or those who are afraid of heights, Winter Park provides a number of surface and conveyor lifts. These consist of rope tow lifts (where the skier is pulled up the surface of the slope by a handle attached to a rope) and three conveyor lifts (where the skier stands on a large conveyor belt).
Under Intrawest's experienced ski resort management, Winter Park is changing from a day ski area to a more complete resort. Additions under Intrawest include hundreds of mountainside, ski-in/ski-out condos, restaurants and improved mountain food service, a family swim center, miniature golfing, climbing wall and an alpine slide.
geography. It will continue to be a favorite vacation and recreation destination for Americans and for people from around the world who want to enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities to be found in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.